The underbelly of Music City harbors countless hustlers and hucksters parlaying real or imagined music industry connections into “services” offered for a price to dreamers with a few bucks to squander. Often a grey area between sincere and scam, Barry Tiffin had just such a racket, but his father’s illness brought him home to Roanoke. A classified ad placed in a 1975 High Point, North Carolina newspaper reveals the angle: “For an appointment and additional information concerning the Professional Music Services of Tiffin Music Enterprises International, of Nashville, Tenn., please contact our office suite at the Ramada Inn in Roanoke, VA.”
Twenty-year-old Doug Firebaugh was referred through a mutual friend to Tiffin, but he entered the arrangement with eyes open. “We had an attorney involved in this,” recalled Firebaugh. Money was paid to have Tiffin to produce an album and contact record labels on the artist’s behalf. Three solid days in Roanoke’s K.A. studio resulted in an unadorned document of Firebaugh’s autodidactic style of songwriting. Firebaugh plays both piano and guitar throughout, with the only addition being an unnamed Nashville pedal steel player who drove six hours for the session before turning around going home. The clip-art cover of the resultant LP positions Tiffin’s Sugar Records imprint far more prominently than the artist’s name. The Performance One title was selected by Firebaugh’s father Sherman, to imply that it was simply the first of many. While nothing came of Tiffin’s promotional “services,” Firebaugh still managed to get most of the pressing to sell at the James Madison University bookstore and at various on-campus gigs. Firebaugh’s brush with country music fame came a few years later after forming The Double Spur Band in 1982, playing the college circuit once again and opening for The Statler Brothers, before woodshedding with Bobby Braddock in Nashville and polishing an acutely commercial style that never found an audience.
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